Three weeks ago, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees vociferously rejected criticism of his unit after it had been gashed for 166 rushing yards, 4.7 yards per carry and one touchdown in a 44-7 thrashing by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On Thursday, Pees launched into another passionate defense after the team surrendered a franchise-worst, single-game-high 231 yards rushing in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Asked a seemingly innocuous question about Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, Pees provided his perspective before making a detour to discuss the defense's play in the setback to Chicago.
"So I know everybody talks about the running game, but everybody was feeling good after Oakland," he began, referring to a 30-17 victory over the Raiders on Oct. 8. "We gave up 245 yards and 17 points, and at the end of regulation last week, we gave up  yards and 17 points and then [3.6] yards per carry. When they run the ball 47 times, guys get caught up in fricking numbers, and it's not, it's about yards per carry. …
"Our problem is we gave up a big play in overtime. That's what happened. We gave up a big play. It's not doom and gloom. It's not the sky is falling. We've got to quit giving up the big plays. That's it, bottom line. We missed a tackle and gave up a big play, and really not only [strong safety] Eric [Weddle]. We had some other guys that should have been right around the ball, and we weren't. So that's our fault. We've got to get everybody to the ball. But whenever you win, you look at all of the negatives, and whenever you lose, sometimes you look at what is positive.
"I'm tired of the sky falling around here. I really am," Pees continued. "I'm really sick of it. You know, our defense last week on a third down-and-1, was that a third-and-critical-1? If they get that first down, is the game over? They're taking a knee. What did we do? We stopped them. [They] kicked the ball, got the ball forced. Half of the stands are gone, right? Everybody's going home, and we run a punt back for a touchdown and tie the game up. So that's a hell of a play, and I'm proud of the defense for doing that. When we went into overtime, what did we do on the first series? They got the ball, and what did we do? Stopped them. We just can't give up a big play. Still, the bottom line, I'm still not trying to excuse that. I'm just saying I'm not doom and gloom. I'm not going to buy into that crap. We're a pretty damn good defense, and if we quit giving up big plays, we'll be damn good statistically. Enough said."
After that answer, the tension seemed to dissipate. Pees ended his weekly news conference by quipping, "I'm getting my words in today. So I'm getting it off my chest. … Hey, I'm 68 years old. I could really give you-know-what."